Congo defends right to explore for oil in national parks; Aaron Ross; Reuters

 

DR of Congo – Salonga National Park

Salonga park sits on peatlands that scientists say could release massive quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere if disturbed

DAKAR, Feb 15 (Reuters) – Democratic Republic of Congo’s oil minister on Thursday defended the country’s right to explore for oil anywhere on its territory after media reports that President Joseph Kabila approved drilling in Africa’s largest tropical rainforest reserve.

Oil minister Aime Ngoy Mukena declined to confirm a report in Germany’s Die Tageszeitung newspaper that Kabila had this month authorised exploration inside Salonga National Park, but he said that no land should be off-limits.

Salonga, a UNESCO World Heritage site, covers 33,350 sq km of the Congo Basin, the world’s second-largest rainforest. It is home to rare species including bonobos, forest elephants, dwarf chimpanzees and Congo peacocks.

The park in central Congo’s Cuvette Centrale also sits on peatlands that scientists say could release massive quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmsophere if disturbed.

Ngoy Mukena said the government was mindful of environmental considerations but was intent on developing its hydrocarbons sector.

Source: Congo defends right to explore for oil in national parks

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‘Am I going to get out of here alive?’ In one of Africa’s most dangerous corners, a fight to the death for the elephants; Robyn Dixon; LA Times

DR of Congo – Garamba National Park

Garamba National Park in northeastern Congo is one of the most dangerous places to be a wildlife ranger and one of the most difficult places to save elephants from rampaging militias.

Kambale Mate huddled beneath a tangle of grass, looking up at bright stars in a moonless sky, a tumble of chaotic events cascading through his mind.

Where were the other wildlife rangers, Jean de Dieu Matongo and Joel Meriko Ari? Were they alive?

He had been a ranger for only five months at Garamba National Park, the last remaining preserve for disappearing populations of elephants and giraffes in this part of Africa. Yet here he was with two comrades, hiding like small, petrified mammals in the grass. If any of them moved, a large band of poachers nearby could find and kill them.

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Oil and gas industry body recommends companies to take into consideration the “no go commitment” in a new report; UNESCO

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DR of Congo – Virunga National Park

In a recent publication on the  SDG, the International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association (IPIECA) recognizes that many World Heritage sites are impacted by industrial activities and operations, including oil and gas exploration and extraction.  The report on Mapping the oil and gas industry to the Sustainable Development Goals: an Atlas was co-authored with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Finance Cooperation (IFC).

The report states that where there is potential for impact on designated World Heritage sites, companies should conduct strategic environmental assessments and incorporate cultural heritage  into environmental, social and health impact assessments (ESHIAs).  The report recalls the established position by the World Heritage Committee that mineral, oil and gas exploration or development is incompatible with the World Heritage status.

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The Power Plants That May Save a Park, and Aid a Country; Amy Yee; The New York Times

DR Of Congo – Virunga National Park

VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, Democratic Republic of Congo — On the verdant savanna of Virunga National Park, a herd of elephants clustered near an umbrella-shaped acacia tree to seek shelter from the blazing morning sun. From a Cessna far above, the giant animals looked like brown-gray miniatures.

Emmanuel de Merode, the director of Virunga National Park, piloted the plane. He wore a Virunga park ranger uniform and had his green beret tucked into the shoulder of his khaki shirt. Mr. de Merode flew over the dazzling 50-mile-long Lake Edward, then descended to a grassy airfield flanked by palm trees.

On this day, the flight was his commute. “It’s the best job in the world,” he said.

Mr. de Merode was visiting a small hydroelectric power plant — built more than four years ago with an investment from the European Union — that has lofty goals.

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World Heritage Committee meeting shows challenges for the world’s treasured places, and reasons for hope; Susan Lieberman & Alfred DeGemmis; HuffPost

DR of Congo – Kahuzi-Biega National Park

The international community, including governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and intergovernmental organizations, have spent 10 days at the annual meeting of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee—the decision-making body of the UNESCO World Heritage Convention—in Krakow, Poland. We have been here for WCS, and it’s been both encouraging and disheartening. From the destruction of ancient ruins in areas of war and civil conflict, such as cultural sites in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, to careless development in major urban areas, many of our planet’s World Heritage sites are well-known and received plenty of media attention – but some are not.

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30 years of protecting the mysterious Okapi; Shreya Dasgupta; Mongabay

DR of Congo – Okapi Wildlife Reserve

On June 1, the Okapi Conservation Project celebrated its 30th Anniversary. Mongabay interviewed John Lukas, the project’s founder, to learn more about the successes and challenges of okapi conservation.

  • The discovery of the elusive okapi, once believed to be a mythical unicorn, was one of the most exciting taxonomic findings of the twentieth century.
  • To protect this shy, giraffe-like animal, wildlife conservationist John Lukas founded the Okapi Conservation Project (OCP) in 1987.
  • During the past three decades, the project team has seen both successes and challenges, from political unrest to a brutal rebel attack in 2012 that killed 6 people and 14 okapis.

The discovery of the elusive okapi, once believed to be a mythical unicorn, was one of the most exciting taxonomic findings of the twentieth century.

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10 Amazing and Popular Tourist Attractions in Africa; Emeka Chigozie; Answers Africa

DR of Congo – Virunga National Park

Africa is fast becoming known as a tourist destination with countries like Kenya, Tanzania, Egypt and South Africa making waves and creating a new era in tourism. For countries like Kenya, tourism contribute a very substantial amount to national revenue every year. Certain tourist attractions are popular because there is a special feeling it gives to people who visit such places and this is outside the fact that places like this hold a very rich heritage and recognition. There are a few places in Africa that are worth mentioning when it comes to Africa’s popular tourist destinations. Here are the Top 10 Well Known Tourist Destinations in Africa. 

10. Omo River Region, Ethiopia

The Omo river region is an area in the Southwestern Ethiopia and home to more than 50 different tribes.

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5 of Africa’s best national parks; Olivia Yasukwa & Torera Idowu; CNN

DR of Congo – Virunga National Park

From sheltering some of the globe’s most endangered species to showcasing astonishing patterns of migration, Africa’s national parks are among the world’s most spectacular.

More and more visitors flock each year to the continents’ parks and reserves, bearing witness to nature on a grand scale and playing a vital role in generating tourism income.
Here are some of the top picks on the continent.

Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

Maasai Mara National Reserve, which has been honored by the World Travel Awards, is named after its ancestral inhabitants, the Maasai people, and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in southwest Kenya.
In addition to an impressive population of big cats, rhinos and elephants, it plays host from July through to October each year to one of the world’s more spectacular movements of wildebeest.

Ex-Child Soldier Wins Goldman Environmental Prize For Protecting Virunga Park And Its Gorillas; Sasha Ingber; NPR

DR of Congo – Virunga National Park

The son of Protestant farmers in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rodrigue Katembo dreamed of one day becoming a pastor. But at 14, he was forced into an armed group. Now 41, he is one of his country’s fiercest defenders of wildlife. Katembo has faced illegal charcoal harvesters, armed poachers and multiple militias as a warden within the 3,000 square miles of Virunga National Park, Africa’s oldest national park and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

One of his most daunting challenges began in 2010 when British oil company SOCO International was granted an oil exploration permit by the Congolese government in part of the protected area. SOCO’s operations threatened the livelihoods of locals and the survival of one of the last populations of critically endangered mountain gorillas, who live in the southern region of the park — estimated at about 480 of the world’s remaining 800.

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Former Child Soldier Wins Goldman Environmental Prize; Miss Rosen; Crave

DR of Congo – Virunga National Park

Congolese park ranger Rodrigue Mugaruka Katembo wins top honors for his extraordinary heroicism protecting the environment from oil companies, poachers, and rebel forces.

Former child soldier turned wildlife park ranger, Rodrigue Mugaruka Katembo, 41, is one of the six people who has been awarded the prestigious 2017 Goldman Environmental Prize for his work to protect the natural environment. The prize, given to one person from each of the world’s six inhabited continental regions, was given to Katembo for his work protecting the majestic endangered species who populate Virunga, Africa’s oldest’s national park, from oil prospectors who are keen to gain access the pristine and untapped lands of this UNESCO World Heritage site.
At 3,000 square-miles in size, Virunga encompasses sections of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Uganda, and Rwanda.

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